The Conference of Presidents (COP) held its winter meeting on Jan. 3-6. The following items were discussed or decided:
- Representatives from the Conference of Presidents will meet with the Board for Home Missions leadership and with several members of the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary faculty as a part of the planning process for the effort to open 100 new home missions in ten years beginning in 2023.
- Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) is continuing its search for a new president. Mr. Bill Ziche, current NPH president, has announced his plans to retire. Mr. Mark Buske, director of marketing for NPH, will serve as acting president until a new president is found.
- There are currently 143 pastoral vacancies in the synod, 124 of which are parish pastor positions. Forty of the pastoral vacancies are in associate pastor positions (meaning those congregations are still being served by at least one pastor). Next year’s graduating class at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary will be larger than those in recent years, which will help to reduce the number of pastoral vacancies.
- With expanding enrollment at our WELS schools, the growing shortage of teachers continues, especially in the area of early childhood. The COP discussed ideas for enhancing recruitment efforts.
- The COP recently issued a pastoral letter on Christian freedom.
- The overall cost of the vicar program is $42,000 per vicar, down slightly from last year. The vicar stipend was increased by $25 per month to $1750. Vicar compensation also provides for housing most of the cost of health insurance.
- The COP expressed thanks to God for the high level of Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO) in 2021. The exact total will be published in the coming days.
- Congregations are asked to submit their 2021 statistics and CMO subscriptions by the Feb. 4 deadline.
- The COP expressed its support for a proposal by Northwestern Publishing House and the Commission on Lutheran Schools to develop a comprehensive K-12 religion curriculum for schools and Sunday schools.
- The COP has been making final edits on the restatement of the synod’s teaching on male and female roles. It is hoped that the final document will be ready for review by the district conventions this summer.
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder